Transform your courtyard into a lush garden room where you can relax and reboot.

Plan your space

With courtyard gardens, space usually comes at a premium. So, converting a pint-sized area into an urban refuge calls for clever thinking.

Remember, less is more – especially when it comes to small-space landscaping. Don’t be tempted to overplant in the beginning; every plant should earn its place.

A simple design, strong structure and attention to scale is important. Hardscaping elements like raised planters, water features and built-in seating will help create a pulled-together look.

RHS LG Eco-City Garden designed by Hay-Joung Hwang, RHS Chelsea 2018.

Dress your walls

Vertical gardens have raised the bar in courtyard aesthetics. “A wide range of plants can be used to create areas of texture and contrast,” says Craig de Necker, managing director of The Friendly Plant.

If your courtyard has little direct sunlight, introduce leafy shade-loving plants to your living wall. As eco-walls are arranged in a grid system, it’s easy to weave a tapestry of fern species, peace lilies, draceana, crotons, bromeliads and tillandsias.

RHS LG Eco-City Garden designed by Hay-Joung Hwang. RHS Chelsea 2018

Add a new dimension to alfresco cooking by installing an outdoor kitchenette, complete with a living pantry. Vertical herb gardens do well in sunny courtyards – provided the plants receive a lot of water and sunlight.

RHS Urban Flow Garden designed by Tony Woods. RHS Chelsea 2018

Let your floors do the talking

Create interest underfoot by introducing graphic flooring to your courtyard oasis. Checkerboard patterns, or variations thereof, are on trend.

Garden consultant Mimi Rupp from SmartStone Port Elizabeth explains that this classic pattern is usually created using large square-shaped stones –most often with two different colours to highlight the pattern. “You can also use different-sized and shaped pavers for an alternative finish,” she notes. For a more classic look, opt for a herringbone design. “When creating a herringbone pattern, the pavers can be laid at either 45 or 90 degrees. The angle you choose will determine the overall pattern and design,” explains Rupp.

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Add lots of pots

No matter the size of your outdoor space, there’s always room to grow plants on your doorstep. “Well-planted pots and planters bring the garden onto into your courtyard. Most plants can grow well in pots if they are well suited to that position in terms of light and water,” says Chris Williams of Catscapes Landscapes.

“Keep the style of your pot or planter in mind when selecting plants to fill it,” adds Williams. Also, consider different-sized planters to create subtle points of interest.

Trade secrets for happy, healthy pot plants:

• Ensure that there are drainage holes at the bottom of the pot to prevent it becoming waterlogged.
• Remember that container plants need a little more water than plants in the ground.
• Feed your pot plants regularly for growth and prune back to keep them nice and bushy.

TIP: Consider leaf texture, colour and shape when choosing suitable plants for your space.

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